Thunderstorms dumped heavy rains from Texas to Colorado Friday, stranding campers in the Texas Panhandle and forcing an exodus to the high ground in Amarillo. The National Guard was summoned to help residents flee from rising waters.
Heavy rains flooded roads in northeast New Mexico. Three-hundredths of an inch of rain fell at Eureka, Calif., which normally has no rain during mid-summer months. Friday's smattering was a July 30 record, breaking the old mark of 2-hundredths set back in 1916.
Nearly 4 inches of rain swamped much of the Texas Panhandle. Streets, businesses and houses were flooded in a mile-square section of southwest Amarillo near Lawrence Lake. About 200 campers were stranded in Palo Duro Canyon, but were said to be in no danger because campsites were up to 40 feet above the water.
Gov. Bill Clements declared parts of Amarillo a disaster area and sent National Guard troops to help evacuate flood victims. The same area was flooded by rains last September, forcing evacuations and street closings.
'But it's worse this time,' said civil defense director Don Goforth. 'We have completed 62 evacuations at the Colonial Arms apartment house and more are coming.'
More than 100 residents at the Olsen Manor nursing home, 22 of them on stretchers, also were evacuated. Police blocked off streets to restrict sightseers and potential looters.
No injuries or missing people were reported.
'For the National Guard, the critical thing is the evacution of these (apartment) complexes,' Goforth said. 'Then they will see the area is secured.'
Early morning showers and thundershowers spread from the Gulf Coast to the southern Appalachians and from the Great Lakes to the lower Missouri River valley.
More than 1 inch of rain fell in central Colorado Thursday, washing out some roadways and causing minor flooding.
Two twisters touched down nearly together in Barron County in Wisconsin and left a swath of damage 5 miles long and a mile wide, police said Thursday night. Windstorms knocked down 500 acres of corn, killed two head of cattle and tore apart a barn and shed near Rice Lake.
Joseph Cahoon, 2, who drowned when he fell into a rain-swollen construction ditch near his home in Chippewa Falls. Heavy rains had swept the area a short time before, officials said.